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San Antonio Probate Blog

Probate complications possible if loved one dies intestate

Texas families often have many duties and arrangements to attend to after the death of a loved one. Probate proceedings can encompass many tasks that individuals must handle in order for a deceased family member's estate to close as it is supposed to close. However, whether the decedent created an estate plan could have a considerable impact on how smoothly those proceedings go.

If a person creates a will before death, he or she will die testate. As a result, many of their probate-related affairs will likely be in order. A will can indicate who the person wanted as executor and how assets should be distributed. The probate process is still necessary in order for the court to ensure that the document is valid.

Donald Fagen involved in probate litigation with Becker's estate

When a person dies, their worldly affairs are often far from over. Many individuals still have issues relating to their estates that need attending to before those affairs can be closed. In some cases, this process can take longer than others, especially if probate litigation takes place. This type of issue is not uncommon, as individuals may feel the need to take legal action for various reasons.

Texas residents may be interested in current litigation relating to the estate of late Steely Dan bandmember Walter Becker. The lawsuit involves the last surviving bandmember, Donald Fagen. Apparently, Becker and Fagen had entered into an agreement 45 years ago that indicated that surviving bandmembers would buy back all shares of band-related stock from individuals who left the band or died.

Estate administration may not be easy for surviving family

Probating an estate can take a considerable amount of time in Texas. If a recently deceased loved one did not leave behind an estate plan or other applicable instructions, the estate administration process could also face its own set of complications. Of course, even with a plan, the proceedings may not be free of issues that could cause difficulties.

Though an estate plan can seem like a beneficial gift from beyond the grave, if a loved one did not take the proper steps to create their plan, problems could arise. In particular, individuals who attempted to make their plans without any help from knowledgeable professionals may not have created their plans correctly. As a result, any documents could be considered invalid, and state intestate laws could end up governing the administration.

Estate planning can be done early and effectively

Because an adult of any age could benefit from having an estate plan, getting started on creating one early in life may prove useful. Estate planning may seem daunting or even morbid at first, but in reality, creating a plan can help ensure that assets are protected and that loved ones understand end-of-life wishes. Of course, when making plans, Texas residents will want to avoid mistakes.

If an individual wants someone in charge of his or her financial, health and other personal decisions in the event of incapacitation, that person should not assume that a spouse will naturally take on that role. In many cases, the court will step in to determine who should make such important decisions, and it may not always be the desired individual. Therefore, a concerned party may want to create a power of attorney document to designate the desired agent.

My parent just died. What happens next?

It is likely with great sorrow that you said goodbye to your parents. Perhaps you have reached the age where many of your friends are losing their parents, and you knew it wouldn't be long before you experienced the loss yourself.

Whether your last living parent fell ill or died suddenly, you are probably feeling many emotions. You and your siblings and extended family may be spending hours reminiscing about the good times and going through your parent's things to decide what to keep and what to donate; but wait, before you dispose of anything in your parent's house, his or her Texas estate must go through probate.

Heirs have concerns over Prince estate administration

It is not unusual for surviving loved ones to have concerns regarding the estates of deceased parties. In some cases, Texas residents may feel that the information left in an estate plan does not reflect the true intentions of the decedent, or they may believe that parties in charge of estate administration are not doing their jobs properly. The latter situation is currently affecting the estate of late musician Prince.

Though the musical artist's death occurred over a year ago, his estate has not yet settled. Now, three of his surviving heirs have petitioned to have the current estate administrator removed from the position. Comerica Bank and Trust currently holds the position, and apparently, the administrator has removed some of the assets from the estate and transferred them elsewhere.

Texas executors may want to avoid estate administration mistakes

Acting as the executor to an estate is a considerable responsibility. In many cases, parties may have volunteered for the role before their loved one passed, and in other situations, individuals may have been unknowingly thrust into the position. Because estate administration may be a complicated endeavor, Texas residents may wish to be on the lookout for possible mistakes to avoid.

One major issue that could arise during the administration of a loved one's estate is distributing assets too early. Though the deceased may have indicated who should receive certain items, taxes and debts must first be addressed. In some instances, after paying off these financial obligations, inheritances and bequests could change. If an executor distributes assets too soon, he or she could be held personally responsible for handling outstanding taxes and debts the estate can no longer cover.

Lack of formal documents may lead to probate litigation

When concerns come about regarding the remaining assets of a deceased loved one, it can be difficult to determine the best way to address those concerns. If there is conflicting information regarding the end-of-life wishes of a loved one, it is not usual for contention to arise. Should a conflict go unresolved informally, there may be cause for probate litigation.

Texas residents may be interested in the struggles of one family in another state. Reports indicated that a 17,000-acre ranch is at the center of the conflict. Apparently, the ranch is in the estate of a recently deceased woman, and her 84-year-old stepson is hoping to see his family's land remain in the family. Unfortunately, it is unclear whether that may happen.

Could a pour-over will help with estate planning in Texas?

There are many tools that individuals could utilize in order to create an estate plan that best suits their needs. In fact, some tools could work in conjunction with other estate planning documents and allow Texas residents to better protect their estates and their surviving loved ones. One option that some parties may wish to consider is the pour-over will.

Though most people have heard of and have used a standard will, a pour-over will can work together with a trust. When a person creates a trust, he or she can dictate how the assets placed in the trust will be distributed. However, there may be instances in which all of the individual's property may not be included in the trust for whatever reason.

Will your children fight over your estate?

Estate law experts estimate that in Texas and across the country, about $30 trillion will pass from parents to children and grandchildren through inheritances over the next few decades. While you may not have $30 trillion to leave behind for your children, whatever you leave may be a windfall for some of your heirs. It may also be a source of contention.

Those who study wealth management say there is an increasing trend of children fighting over their perceived inheritances even before both parents have passed away. If you are already suspecting that your children will dispute your estate plan, you may want to take steps to prevent this, since such disputes typically result in long-lasting grief.

Aldrich Law Firm, PLLC

Aldrich Law Firm, PLLC
909 NE Loop 410
Suite 602
San Antonio, TX 78209

Phone: 210-418-1150
Fax: 210-598-7221

909 NE Loop 410 Suite 602
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